Two optimistic climate action student advocates win $3,000 bursary

Student Climate Action Leader Bursary winners are eager about environmental sustainability initiatives at Algonquin College
Photo: submitted by Zeeshan) Photo credit
Arkyn Kornell (right) 22, Student Climate Action Leader Bursary Winner and host of Mythic Resilience podcast. Mohammad Zeeshan (left) 33. Global Supply Chain Management (

Mohammad Zeeshan and Arkyn Kornell expressed surprise, shock, gratitude and uncertainty after recently learning they won the Climate Action Leader bursary.

“I was not expecting it. It came as a surprise for me,” said Zeeshan. “I believe that everyone who’s in the impact challenge applied as well, so it was a surprise for me that I am the one who got it.”

Following submissions to the CICan ImpAct Climate Challenge, Kornell, a public relations student, and Zeeshan, a global supply chain management student, have emerged as champions of climate change awareness and sustainability and were awarded $1,500 each on Feb. 23 at Algonquin College.

Kornell, 22, and Zeeshan, 33, share a commitment to inspire change and bring sustainability to the forefront of education and campus planning. Their efforts align with the urgent global call for climate sustainability, making them exemplary leaders in the fight against climate change.

“I love that they chose two people for the award,” said Kornell. “It balances out because you need the technical side, you need the people who are doing the research and you also need the people out there to communicate, like said research.”

The ImpAct Climate Challenge is an initiative designed to engage CICan member colleges and institutes across Canada to raise awareness of greenhouse gases and encourage behaviour change toward SDG 13 Climate Action. Based on the highest level of participation, four colleges or institutes from different size categories are awarded a $3,000 bursary to support a student climate leader.

Colleges and Institutes Canada representative André Garneau shared the positive feedback garnered from participants.

“In our last challenge, in the six thematic areas, 93 per cent of participants indicated that they learned something new, while a remarkable 98 per cent indicated that the information presented inspired them to take further climate action in their daily lives,” said Garneau.

Zeeshan, who is from India, holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences and engineering and has over five years working in the industry. When asked about the comparability of the climate change landscapes in India and Canada, Zeeshan emphasized that India is leading in its climate action initiatives.

“In contrast, if I’m going to compare Canada and India, I will put India at the upper hand in terms of climate change and sustainability,” said Zeeshan

He is currently involved in analyzing and curating sustainability topics into the current Algonquin College School of Business curriculum.

“We have to include climate change and sustainability in our curriculum from now to ensure graduates are market ready,” he said.

Kornell describes herself as outdoorsy. She spent much of her childhood in nature and is extremely passionate about environmental sustainability and addressing climate change efforts.

“When I do this work, environmental work, it’s never for the purpose of being nominated or being appreciated,” said Kornell “I just like to do it because I’m passionate about it.”

As a public relations student, Kornell hopes to use the power of storytelling and empathy to reach her audience. She intends to use some of her bursary toward her upcoming podcast Mythic Resilience which focuses on re-imagining the effects of climate change through Norse and Greek mythology and through amplifying existing Indigenous stories.

Kornell’s vision for Algonquin College involves placing more importance on environmental measures and sustainability in its campus development plan. She stressed the need for transparency and actions that resonate with the community.

“Climate change is such a big issue, and there’s a feeling that I as an individual cannot do much, but as we ripple out, it creates a bigger effect,” said Kornell

To enroll in the next round of the ImpAct Climate Challenge visit the ImpAct Climate Challenge website to register.

“Together we can make Algonquin College a leader in sustainability,” said Zeeshan

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